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Electric Pickup Truck Manufacturer Scores Huge 'Climate' Order from Amazon

To show his company's commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2040, Jeff Bezos announced Thursday that Amazon would purchase 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans from Michigan-based Rivian. The trucks will begin service in 2021.
September 23, 2019, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The billionaire announced plans Sept. 19 to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian, custom-built for Prime deliveries, as part of an Amazon environmental initiative designed to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord 10 years early," report Chester Dawson and Keith Naughton of Bloomberg News (source article via Transport Topics). 

Amazon will start making deliveries with Rivian vans in 2021. By late the following year, Rivian expects to have 10,000 vehicles on the road, according to Amy Mast, a spokeswoman for the carmaker. The vans will be built at the company’s plant in Normal, Ill., purchased years ago from Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

"Rivian is a relatively new name in the electric vehicle industry, having only debuted its pickup truck and SUV at the end of November 2018," reports Andrew J. Hawkinsa transportation reporter at The Verge. "But the company has been operating in stealth since 2009."

The Amazon order represents the company's second commitment to Rivian. Last February, it invested $700 million. In April, Rivian received a $500 million investment from Ford Motor Company. Earlier this month, Cox Automotive invested $300 million. Expect to see the company's all-electric pickup and SUV models for sales in late 2020.

The electric vans will join with 20,000 diesel vans ordered last year from Mercedez-Benz as part of a last-mile initiative announced in June 2018.

The Climate Pledge

The aforementioned environmental initiative is called 'The Climate Pledge' which calls on signatories to be net-zero in carbon emissions across their businesses by 2040 — a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050.

"Bezos says he wants Amazon to be a role model for other companies, which is why he says Amazon will be the first company to sign on to the new pledge," reports Justine Calma, science reporter at The Verge covering the environment and climate change.

Joining Bezos onstage was Christiana Figueres, a former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Figueres is a founding partner of U.K.-based Global Optimism Ltd. "With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization," stated Figueres in a joint announcement at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

"If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join.”

Companies who sign the pledge will agree to:

  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis;
  • Implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations, including efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions, and other carbon emission elimination strategies; 
  • Neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040 [Note that the Paris climate agreement calls for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.]

Timing of announcement

The Sept. 19 announcement, made at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., came a day before the youth-led Global Climate Strike. Also participating in the Friday event were "hundreds of Amazon employees from Amazon's Seattle headquarters, as did contingents from Amazon offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Dublin and other cities," reports James F. Peltz for the Los Angeles Times.

The group leading the Amazon walkout — Amazon Employees for Climate Justice — has spent this year urging Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and the rest of senior management to take more urgent steps, and the workers’ efforts are a key reason Amazon’s overall environmental footprint increasingly is coming under scrutiny.

On Monday, the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 convenes in New York. UN Secretary General António Guterres has told reporters that the summit is an opportunity to recognize the countries that are ahead of the curve and pressure other ones lagging behind," reports Umair Irfan, who covers climate change, energy, and the environment for Vox.

“Don’t come to the summit with beautiful speeches,” Guterres said at a press conference last month. “Come with concrete plans ... and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050.”

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Published on Thursday, September 19, 2019 in Bloomberg News via Transport Topics
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